Martha Stewart has secretly sent staffers to spy on TV rival Rachael Ray — because Martha’s afraid her syndicated show will be crushed by the culinary newcomer’s fastrising popularity.

Martha realized early that the “Rachael Ray” show — which is co-produced by Oprah Winfrey — was going to prove a serious threat, so she allowed some of her freelance producers to work on both shows — on the condition they report back and tell her everything Rachael was doing!

Martha’s also sent spies to sit in Rachael’s studio audience.

“Martha is at war with Rachael. She thinks Rachael’s sloppy and not a good chef,” an insider told The ENQUIRER.

“She’s furious that Rachael is getting huge ratings. She has set up a spy operation to find out everything she can about Rachael’s show.”

One thing in particular that’s driving Martha crazy is that big-name celebrities — like singer Barry Manilow — are first appearing on Rachael’s show because she has a larger audience base than Martha’s show.

Pick up this week’s ENQUIRER to read more!